North Melbourne have confirmed Alastair Clarkson will remain away from the club indefinitely despite the Kangaroos coach being cleared by the AFL.
Clarkson has been on leave from Arden St since stepping away from football on May 18 due to the emotional toll of the long-running Hawthorn racism saga.
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The AFL announced on Tuesday night no adverse findings were made against Clarkson, former Hawks football boss Chris Fagan and ex-welfare player manager Jason Burt from an independent investigation panel into claims of racism at the club between 2008 and 2016.
All three accused have consistently denied any wrongdoing from the start.
North president Sonja Hood said she acknowledged the distress of everyone involved in the saga, including the First Nations families who initially raised the allegations.
“In terms of Alastair’s situation, I am pleased but not surprised that the independent panel cleared him of the allegations of wrongdoing,” Hood wrote in a letter to members.
“Having heard Alastair’s story, spoken to many of his past players (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) and colleagues, and had a chance to review the documentation presented to the independent panel (much of it as late as last week), this is a just outcome, albeit one that was a long time coming.
“The past eight months have taken a huge toll on Alastair and he has been remarkably stoic.
“He has remained loyal to the process throughout despite having been denied natural justice for so long.
“For now, he will remain away from the club as he looks to get his own physical and mental health in order.
“We’re happy for him to take as much time away as he feels is necessary.”
Former Carlton and St Kilda coach Brett Ratten, who was only working part-time at North up until two weeks ago, will continue to lead the Kangaroos in Clarkson’s absence.
When Clarkson stepped aside two weeks ago, North were extremely confident the 55-year-old would eventually return to the helm and would not be lost to football.
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